Entrepreneur life: Meet the founder of Leeds based video production company Fresh Cut
30 May 2019
The video market is evolving, investment is up +27% YOY in 2018 to £23bn worldwide*, more and more brands are realising the power of video to educate, inspire and drive sales, especially online. At the same time, production has become more complex with multiple formats and styles required to engage consumers wherever they are. With the rising significance of video, it’s no surprise that Hi Digital have been busy producing some cool video content for one of our ecommerce clients who are launching an innovative eco brand later this year. Obviously, we needed to work with best local talent and loved working with the Fresh Cut team at their fantastic studio in Sunny Bank Mills, Leeds.
For this month’s blog, we caught up with Fresh Cut founder Rick Frier to chat about all things video and how he scaled his video production company from a humble freelancer to a multi-studio operation. I know, entrepreneur goals right! Rick founded Fresh Cut back in 2006, since then they’ve produced countless TV commercials and brand videos for an enviable portfolio of clients. The Fresh Cut story has been an interesting one so far, and there’s definitely plenty more good times ahead, read on for entrepreneurial advice and video marketing tips from a guy that knows!
But first, here’s a fun video to help you get to know Rick and his team:
Was there a specific trigger or moment that made you decide to go for it and set up your own video production business?
I always had a strong drive and desire to set up my own business. I remember telling my Grandma when I was around 10 years old that I wanted to set up my own chain of garages, aptly named ‘Ginger’s’ and I’d paint the roofs of all the branches bright orange so people could easily spot them. It seems like I’ve been a sucker for branding and bright colours from a young age! After graduating from the Northern Film School I got accepted onto an Entrepreneurial Summer School, most people completed uni and were out having fun – I was in my element learning from people who’d set up inspirational businesses.
I felt I still needed some industry experience before taking the leap though, so having coined the name Fresh Cut, I kept working on my ideas in my spare time, whilst working full time at a local Leeds Production Company. After two years learning the industry as an editor and camera operator I got to the stage where I thought to myself, these guys aren’t doing anything I couldn’t be doing myself.
Their values were very different from mine so I decided to take the leap and set up a production company focused on delivering high quality, cinematic, audience focused content.
When did you realise that Fresh Cut was going to ‘work’?
The demand for high-quality yet affordable video content has been clear from 2006, one good job led to the next, followed by referrals and recommendations and the business grew from there, the demand has always been there, the trick has been to refine the business model and our offering in order to be as cost effective as the business has grown.
You’ve been running Fresh Cut for over twelve years. Is your business easier to run today compared to the ‘start up years’ (first 3 years)?
Running any business is never easy, conditions outside of your control can quickly change and it’s important to develop an agile business model which can flex and evolve with the market. Having more staff certainly helps to spread the workload but that brings new challenges with it too. The key is surrounding yourself with great people, both full time staff and consultants.
On a scale of 1 to 10, how tough is it to build and scale a successful video production company?
It’s got to be high, I’d say an 8! Running a business with a regular income each month would be less taxing on the nerves! Video tends to run on a job-by-job basis so we tend to start at zero each month and have to build our sales from there, which keeps us on our toes!
What are you most proud of Fresh Cut achieving to date?
I’m proud of so much, it feels great to support so many people with their income each month. Likewise, it feels great to support so many businesses and watch their growth accelerate and know we’ve been a part of that. I’m also really proud of our website, freshcutcreative.co.uk, and all of the work that has gone into that.
What’s the best thing about running your own company?
The best (and worst) thing about running your own business is not having a boss to answer too. On one hand no boss (everyone’s dream right); take a day off whenever you fancy it, no-one to shout at you when something’s gone wrong, no-one driving the business in a direction you don’t agree with.
On the other hand, you soon realise making those big decisions is hard when it’s all on you. Having someone to be accountable to is actually pretty good, if you commit to getting something done by a specific date and you don’t hit it, there’s consequences.
My favourite thing is working on our brand, it’s ethos and values… great output is important to me but just as important is a business where the team all feel like a family, where they’re valued, where they can grow as individuals, where they love their jobs… it great to know the team enjoy what they do and have the freedom to make the strongest possible work.
Is there anything that you know now that you wish you knew when you started Fresh Cut?
I think when starting any business growth is important but it has to be sustainable. So many small business owners I know that started at a similar time to me tried to grow too quickly, work slowed down, overheads got out of hand and their businesses are no longer here. It’s hard to build a self-funded business, especially during the recession, ambition is important but growth has to be well researched and planned.
How has the video landscape evolved over the past 13 years?
In 2006 a small amount of companies were using video and it tended to be a larger investment for them – back then a video on your homepage was seen as a fairly new cutting edge thing. Now, video content is more of a throwaway item, often used for a short run on social media. Therefore, video production companies have to be a lot smarter with budgets, we’ve had to refine our approach and consolidate our overheads in order to strike the perfect balance between high quality and a competitive pricing model.
Please share your advice for budding entrepreneurs that want to start their own business.
Taking your time to research and develop a business plan built on stats and facts is so important. So many people go freelance and jump into running a business without taking the time to plan and refine their offering. A business built on solid foundations in much more likely to survive and flourish.
What’s next for video marketing and Fresh Cut?
The shorter the better is what the results are showing. When I started three minutes was seen as a short video. The challenge now is communicating your message in the shortest format possible with a creative approach that stands out in what is becoming a very crowded space.
We are already excited for our next project with the lovely Fresh Cut team, there’s so much creative talent up north and Fresh Cut are setting the benchmark. If you’re based in London, don’t worry Fresh Cut also have a state-of-the-art studio and top notch team in our capital too. If we’ve got you thinking about investing in video, discover 8 benefits of incorporating video into your marketing strategy on our blog or, check out Fresh Cut’s impressive video portfolio over on their website. Researching video is a fun task, trust me!
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